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ARITF close to completing sexual abuse prevention ‘tool box’ for churches

ATLANTA (BP) — The Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force had already been working toward producing a tool box for churches prior to its March 28 meeting. But feedback from that gathering has been “extremely helpful” to the process, Chairman Marshall Blalock told Baptist Press.

An ARITF subcommittee meeting today, May 8, focused on such a toolbox “to help every church of every size take vital steps toward sexual abuse prevention and protection,” Blalock said.

“Valuable feedback” from 26 state convention teams at the March meeting went toward helping churches “initiate basic and essential reforms.”

“The mandate of the ARITF is to provide help for local churches to be as safe as possible for children, teens and vulnerable adults,” Blalock said. “In light of that goal, the toolbox will put the essentials for prevention and protection into the hands of every church and association.”

Workgroups among ARITF members have been assigned to focus “on different portions of our assignment,” Blalock said. “We hope to have the entire Task Force meet together as soon as these groups complete their work.”

Recently, a move away from recommending Guidepost Solutions to establish and maintain a database of those credibly accused of sexual abuse came following the ARITF’s April 4 meeting.

The ARITF had recommended Faith-Based Solutions, a division of Guidepost, for the role in its report to the SBC Executive Committee in February. That decision followed criticism from Southern Baptists going back to a tweet from the organization expressing support to the LGBTQ+ community last year.

The ARITF will hold one more meeting prior to Southern Baptists’ gathering in New Orleans for the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting, Blalock confirmed.

Blalock is scheduled to present the ARITF report to messengers at the annual meeting on Tuesday, June 13, at 5 p.m.